Answer to a question from a reader

How do I contest my grandfather's will?

The short answer

It's hard to contest a will, but you can try Legal Aid.

The whole question

I have been struggling since 2008 to contest my grandfather's will. I have doctor's papers to prove that my grandfather was in no state to draw up a will. What do I do?

The long answer

Thank you for your email asking how you can contest your grandfather’s will, on the basis that he wasn’t mentally fit to draw up a will.

Though that is a valid legal reason for contesting a will, (it is called “testamentary capacity) it is not a simple matter to prove that he did not have the mental capacity to understand the effect of the will he made.

The courts have found that the mere fact of old age or illness does not necessarily mean that the person couldn’t understand the effect of the will he or she made. They say that even if the person’s mental abilities were less than the ordinary standard, the will could still be valid if the person had sufficient intelligence to understand what it meant to make the will.

In general, if the will appears to be in order and the wording clearly reflects the intentions of the person, and these intentions are not illegal, the courts are very reluctant to change a will.

It is also generally a long, difficult and expensive process.

Perhaps the best place to start would be Legal Aid, who could advise on whether you stood any chance of successfully contesting your grandfather’s will. They exist to offer legal assistance to people who cannot afford lawyers, and they will give you a means test to see if you qualify. They do not offer advice by email.

To locate your nearest Legal Aid office: 0861 05 34 25

Here is their general phone number:  0800 110 110

Answered on April 24, 2019, 4:44 p.m.

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